The Importance of the Sidekick

Posted: January 20, 2016 in Writing
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Cat & Rose

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but one of the reasons my daughter’s and my first book worked was because we introduced a best friend for our main character. When we created Rose, she was really only meant to be in the one chapter, so Cat could ask her for a makeover. We had no plans for Rose for the rest of the book.

In the end, it was Cat’s relationship withRose that provided some of the most emotional aspects of the story.

Also, Rose gave us irresistible opportunities to explore contrasting characters and she gave us a perfect foil for Cat.  Rose could ask questions the reader needed answering, and she gave us someone Cat could confide in and share her secrets with. Rose became one of the most important characters in the book.

But I hadn’t really thought about it before. So when we started planning and plotting the sequel, it never occurred us that we were isolating Cat from Rose for almost the entire book.

To catch you up, in our middle grade fantasy, The Last Princess, we introduce the fae-born, who are the mostly-human descendants of the fae (faeries, elves, goblins, etc.) who vanished because they interbred with humans hundreds of years ago. Cat is chosen to be their princess partly because she has royal blood on her mother’s side, who (it turns out) was the last princess five hundred years ago, but abandoned the crown and eventually used a wish to become human so she could raise a family – all unbeknownst to her husband and children. For the sequel, we plan to have a botched wish send Cat back five hundred years into the body of her 13-yo mother in Ireland, where she has to pretend to be her mother the princess without anyone finding out she’s not (sort of Freaky Friday meets Brave).

For this story, we imagined Cat would be there alone, dealing with a whole new cast of characters on her own. And then one of our beta readers (and one of our moist insightful fans), pointed out that there was something huge missing from our sequel. The vide of the fist book. Cat has a strong rapport with her family members and with her best friend, Rose. All of that would be gone with Cat isolated and along with no means to communicate with any of those people. She suggested that someone else get caught up in the wish with Cat – her little brother or her Dad, or even some kind of psychic connection to the present, so those ties would not be forgotten.

I didn’t cotton to the idea at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I recognized the value of Cat’s relationship with Rose, and how much fun it would be to have both of them stuck together in the past. It will take a fair amount of revising our plot outline to include Rose, but now that I’ve put Rose in the mix I really can’t imagine her not being there.

Rose is a bit like Doctor Who’s companion – that human Everyman who shares the Doctor’s adventures so we can vicariously join in the adventure ourselves. This is another important role the classic sidekick character can play. Also, she will be an important tie to home. Plus, as a side benefit, Cat won’t be spending the entire book thinking to herself.

So for those of you writing your own books, don’t forget the importance of the sidekick.

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